On the Arts, the President, and Being Liberal

I know this piece is going to make some people mad, but I am sick to death of apologizing for being a liberal.

I am sick of being on the defensive. I want to be offense for awhile — not “offensive”, but on offense. There’s a difference. Bear with me…

Yesterday, Kathy Griffin posted “art” online — disturbing images, including one of her holding up a bloody head of Donald Trump.  What has come of it? Nothing. He’s not dead. It’s an image, a picture. It’s not real. But she — after talking to Al Franken, a liberal democrat — has apologized for offending the Trumps and other people’s sensibilities. 

He helped her apologize! He brought her back from the edge of the community and explained once again that we’re not that kind of people. She humbly acquiesced. I’m not sure she should have. Truth be told, I would like Donald Trump to be dead as well. I don’t want to kill him — understand that — but if he got hit by a bus tomorrow, I wouldn’t be unhappy about it. I am angry with Mr. Trump and his policies. Neither would many of my friends. If you’re upset by my saying this, too bad! People feel things all the time. Get used to it! The point is that my writing this, just like her photographs don’t do anything in the real world. Trump does, and he never apologizes for it.

The knife-wielding man in Portland never apologized. He remains defiant. Breitbart news never apologizes. Sean Hannity refuses to stop talking about some made up conspiracy theory. He never apologizes.

How many years did Trump make Obama’s life a living hell with his lies? But liberals are supposed to apologize for a picture that bothered him for a day?!?!  No. Enough

When liberals “go off”, they are usually saying something that many of us feel. Remember when the Dixie Chicks said they weren’t proud of President Bush. He was taking us to war, and we still don’t know why. Did they kill anyone? Did they threaten our values? No. They expressed them, as is their right. They lost careers. They witnessed album burnings, and being burned in effigy and death threats. I think they sort of apologized, but in any case, they sacrificed for what they thought was right. So did the men and women who died in Iraq. Who didn’t? George W. Bush!

Before that, it was Bill Maher who made an inappropriate comment about how “gutsy” suicide bombers were. I totally disagreed with the statement. He lost his job for years. He sacrificed himself for the right to be wrong. Years later, we have a President who sacrifices others while invoking his right to be wrong. 

That was almost twenty years ago. That’s a long time between offensive statements. I think our side is well behind conservatives as far as disrespectful statements. When conservatives are offensive, people die. That doesn’t go away with an apology.

I am sick of being told we’re not patriotic enough because we don’t always wear a flag on our lapels. I’m sick of being told all kinds of things about people who aren’t doing anything but hanging around while Black. I’m sick of seeing people being removed from the country because they are Brown. I’m sick of seeing a man I’m supposed to respect shove a diplomat. I’m sick of state representatives threatening to shoot someone, or elected officials physically attacking the press. Actual physical violence is not the same thing as a depiction of violence. It’s worse! Clarence Thomas’ (his words) “virtual lynching” is not the same thing as actually dying by being hanged. How do I know? He’s still got a job. They don’t even have life. Thomas knew that, and he played it, all the while denying that race had any effect on his life.  As one who knows abuse, I can tell you a suggestive remark is not rape. It is horrible, and it triggers some people, but it’s not rape. Rape is rape. Comparing the two demeans the experience of those  who actually have been. It’s the same with any political  hyperbole. Am I angry at that? Yes, I am. And I’m saddened by my clients’ having to be shamed for saying something happened to them when they are not the problem.

What set me off today was a picture in the Huffington Post of a man with the same color bloody face as Trump’s in the Griffin picture. The man was attacked in Afghanistan. Trump is sending troops and ramping up the war in Afghanistan. Is no one offended for that man? Who expresses anger for him? Subconsciously, Kathy Griffin does, but she’s in trouble. Who else does? Apparently me. That’s why I don’t care if I’m in trouble for writing this.

Lastly, I am not saying that I like Kathy Griffin’s piece. I understood it, but like it? Not really.I’m saying that I believe in her right to it. Art gives expression to feelings so that we don’t have to act on them.

For my Christian brothers and sisters, as my church ends its worship, we say “return to no one evil for evil”. I suppose I am guilty of doing just that. And when I calm down, I’ll try to do that. But, damn, it’s hard sometimes.

Resisting in peace,
John

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